One of the major contentions with the proposed Sabbatical review was the creation of the role Vice President of Student Activities; leaving one person in charge of both societies and the Athletic Union clubs.
The main bone of discontentment was with the AU clubs who believed that their interests would be over looked if there was not a sabbatical position solely in charge of running the Athletic Union.
After discussing the matter with the AU clubs and inter-college sports representatives, it was clear to current Athletic Union president Gareth Coleman that the AU would not stand for the proposed changes and he decided to back his AU and fight against the changes. This was clearly a matter that the Athletic Union felt strongly about and it showed at the General Meeting of Wednesday Week 9 where almost all of the attendees were sporting Lancaster sports team attire.
Realising that the issue of a Student Activities officer was a controversial one, LUSU President Michael Payne had put forward an amendment to be debated at the General Meeting on Wednesday of week nine.
The amendment to the original Sabb review proposed that their should be a Vice President of Sports, with matters regarding societies being handed over to the Vice President of Finance, Events, Democracy; in other words sticking with the current format of General Secretary handling society issues and AU President dealing purely with sports.
For the AU clubs desperate to hit the Carleton or various Christmas socials, the discussions leading up to the vote on the position of Vice President of Student Activities was perhaps tedious but they were rewarded when almost the whole of George Fox lecture theatre voted for the amendment.
With the overall Sabbatical review being passed, this now means that the Athletic Union president will as of next year be named Vice President of Sports, but the role remains the same.
The leading argument for ridding the Sabb team of a person solely in charge of sport was that the members that make up sports teams are in the minority of students at Lancaster.
However, the Athletic Union proved that it is not quantity of people that matters with but the strength of their views and the passion towards their cause.
Current AU non-Sabb Tan Farrell commented after the meeting that, “The fact that the AU were mobilised and came and joined in the debate was amazing. A lot of people have made the point that societies need this and need that – if they truly needed anything they would have came out in force to vote and raise their issues. ”
The overwhelming majority of people supporting the notion of a Sabb role solely concerned with sports show the importance of the AU at Lancaster. Although it was argued that other universities manage successfully with a Student Activities Officer; AU president Gareth Coleman was quick to point out that these universities do not have to deal with organising the biggest inter varsity competition in Britain, possibly even Europe. The inter college sports structure is also a key part of the role that does not take place at universities where there is no ‘sports only’ sabbatical role.
Overall the Athletic Union gained what they set out to achieve and proved that the point that it is their student union and that their voices matter just as much as those running the LUSU Sabb team.
Gareth Coleman had this to say on the outcome of the meeting; ‘As AU President, I’m proud the AU turned out in force and made themselves heard. The Sabb Review was always going to be controversial, and the debate didn’t disappoint on this front. There were obviously clear resistance groups for all of the amendments and the review as a whole, but a Sabb Review was undeniably needed – so time will tell how last night’s meeting will effect out Union”.